Building a very strong adaptive capacity to cope with climate change will require an integrated approach by all stakeholders – which includes the farmers and institutions, whether government or non-governmental, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Dr. Simon Bawakyillenuo, has said.
According to him, unpacking the prevailing effects of climate change and how to strategically provide understanding of it and get farmers to adjust to it will require certain factors which are very critical but can be hindered if the approach does not rest on stronger collaboration.
“There are various factors that determine someone’s ability to actually adapt, and those factors are three critical ones: which are awareness, your ability and the action you take. So, if someone is not aware of the dominant situation, how will the person actually think about acting? You may also be aware, but your actions could be limited by certain institutional issues.
“So it is important to really help them appreciate that they are actually going to face unreliable rainfall patterns, see drought – and you are actually going to face flooding situations. In the midst of all of that, what should you be doing, which institution should be doing what?” he said during a climate change workshop organised by ISSER and Environment for Development (EfD) under the theme ‘Touching Agro-Communities with Climate Education’, for farmers at Somanya in the Eastern Region.
Dr. Bawakyillenuo indicated that it has become necessary for education on climate change to be brought to the doorstep of farmers to know the impact on their activities, and what can be done to manage these changes. He added that no one is spared when it comes to the effect of climate change; therefore, exposing farmers to these changes is in the right direction.
Commenting on the subject, lecturer at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Ishmael Lente said: “Climate information is critical for smallholder farmers to adapt to the impact of climate change; and the only way to get accurate, timely and reliable is from accurate data”.
According to him, information on climate change is very crucial to farmers since it can help determine what is to be done at every point – further stating that there is a need to ensure there is strong collaboration between the Agric Ministry, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA) to develop a strategy that gets the required information for smallholder farmers.
He added that institutions such as GMA have been mandated to set up stations which acquire and record live data – but, in most cases, the data is not up to date and have gaps as well.
“For instance, in the Nandom district where I worked, I requested for temperature data from 1984 – 2014 as at the time I was doing the work; I wanted up to 2017 but it was not available, and even the data available was about 65 percent. As of 2021, I went back to request the rest of the data from 2015 – 2021; they were not able to give me all the data,” he bemoaned.
Dr. Lente advised that: “If we need to embark on climate change education for smallholder farmers, we need that climate change database and GMA should be empowered. If it’s about investment, government must fund them to be able to do these things.”